VCU earns Diversity Champion recognition for second year in a row

A classroom full of students and an instructor.
VCU's diversity and inclusion efforts have been featured in the June 2021 issue of INSIGHT into Diversity. (Allen Jones, University Marketing)

For the second time in as many years, Virginia Commonwealth University has earned the honor of Diversity Champion from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. 

“This marks a significant achievement as the nation continues to reel from a tumultuous year marked with protests for racial justice and struggles for equity,” said Aashir Nasim, Ph.D., vice president and vice provost for institutional equity. “And amid the COVID-19 pandemic, VCU saw the growth and emergence of new diversity, equity and inclusion programs and initiatives launched during the 2020-21 academic year.”

INSIGHT Into Diversity highlighted several university efforts that earned VCU the Diversity Champion distinction. Led by Nasim, the Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success saw the use of Climatext to inform decisions affecting student and academic life. Its complementary component, the culture and climate dashboard, presents aggregate survey results from VCU employees and makes recommendations to bolster academic and administrative efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion.

The Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success also developed and launched numerous training and educational opportunities through IExcel Education for VCU faculty, staff and students, including the Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Certificate Program, Engaged Citizenship Toolkit and Psychological Readiness Training. Additionally, the office hosts RAMmalogues – a virtual space to allow members of the VCU community to reconcile their thoughts and feelings on what has transpired over the past 12 months on wide-ranging topics, including “How Coronavirus Affects Me” and “Living and Learning Amid Racism in a Pandemic.”

These programs and initiatives earned VCU the Diversity Champion honor and brought the university national recognition in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. However, it serves as a modest milestone in a much longer journey for VCU.

“Despite our national prominence, we recognize there still is much work for us to do, to measure up to the standards and expectations that we have set for ourselves,” Nasim said.

Since 2012, INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine has recognized the value of innovative approaches colleges and universities take toward promoting and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. The magazine solicits applications annually for its Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award to recognize “colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.” It then selects institutions from among those award winners for the honor of Diversity Champion – those that “exemplify an unyielding commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout their campus communities, across academic programs, and at the highest administrative levels.”

The Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success merged with the Center for Community Engagement and Impact and Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry and Innovation in February and with Equity and Access Services in January 2020.

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